In the first three days of a new year, most people in Japan meet with their families and enjoy a sit-down meal of Osechi-ryōri , a variety of colorful, traditional foods beautifully laid out in obento-type boxes. By the third day, however, the shine of doing so has really started to wear off, and that’s when car folk go missing.
Their families won’t send out search parties or anything, as they know it’s the time of the year that automotive enthusiasts from Tokyo and its surrounding cities flock to Daikoku PA and other parking areas for unofficial meet-ups. And Daikoku is exactly where I was at 8:00am this past Friday morning.
With the thermometer showing a rather chilly 2°C (35.6°F), you’d assume it would take some time to get a decent turnout happening, but by 8:00am the iconic automotive location was already brimmed full with a tantalizing assortment of metal.
This is how Japan welcomes in the New Year, and every single January 3rd I visit Daikoku Parking Area, I always leave satisfied and impressed.
You might think there’d be a slight feeling of déjà vu with lots of the same cars you see all year round showing up, but that’s just not the case. Yes, you have your regulars, but on the whole you always leave thinking the same thing: Just how many cool cars is Japan hiding away?
This is what keeps people coming back, because every January 3rd is different.
This year, for example, there was so much awesomeness but a distinct lack of exotic hyper cars. However, there was one lone Ferrari F40 that showed up.
As far as I’m concerned, when an F40 pulls up to a car meet you are done. You have peaked, as you’ve been graced by automotive perfection.
With this being Japan, the Ferrari icon couldn’t have parked up next to anything more different.
The R34 Skyline GT-R crew was out in full force with a massive line-up of cars that must have started assembling at the crack of dawn. I hope 2020 becomes the year Project GT-R finally makes its way back onto the road, but more on that later when I finally get some time to post about it…
The Japanese certainly have a way with cars; they just can’t help themselves and always need to do some customizing and personalization. I’ll let you decide whether this Ferrari 348 Spider with a rear spoiler and chrome wheels works or not.
Without a shadow of doubt though, this BMW E46 M3 on BBS LM wheels is spot-on in every way. It exhibits the JDM take on modern classic German cars, a sublime yet simple blend of parts and touches that result in an “I’m ready for the track” look.
In total contrast and parked up right next to the M3 was this early 2000s Daihatsu Mira dropped on Work Equip 01s.
During my initial brisk five-minute walk through the PA, trying to quickly get my bearings of what was there and where, I came across a surprising number of truly awesome cars.
It’s a good thing the parking spots at Daikoku are nice and wide.
I see you Lancia Delta Integrale, I see you.
As you would have noticed by now, the variety didn’t let us down, and it kept on coming down that ramp that feeds the PA from the highway above.
The entry ramp is where the biggest crowd of people always seem to assemble these days. It’s here you’ll find fellow photographers and vloggers, and visitors from other countries enjoying the constant influx of cars.
2020 marks my 27th year in Japan, and during this time I’ve concluded that there are more running Lancia Deltas in Japan than in Italy. I’ve yet to see one on fire here, which is also quite a feat and testament to how good the Japanese have gotten at making these ticking time bombs – sorry, I meant cars - run.
If you’re a Delta fan I do apologize; I just can’t help myself. To make things better, here’s a pair of Nismo R34s.
As I squatted to capture a shot of this lonely Ginetta in the top corner of the PA, I heard air horns blaring The Godfather theme.
It could mean only one thing – a nice group of kyusha rides were just arriving.
There were some very cool cars in the group, but it was this S130 280ZX that made me really salivate. It was just right; so simple and to the point, and sporting a rear hatch conversion for a bosozoku touch.
Despite their rarity, the Toyota Corona RT40 is a car we’ll see in numbers next month at Nostalgic 2 Days. It’s always nice to see these things out in the wild.
And the same goes for a Tommykaira ZZ, this one looking like it’s been built as a serious track or touge weapon.
A Jalpa 3.5 even appeared for a short time, adding to the rather long list of Lamborghinis that showed up during the morning.
If you asked me to list my top three most memorable cars from the 2020 Daikoku New Year event, this W124 coupe sporting a full Lotec wide-body conversion would be on it.
It’s the most visual expression of exuberance for its period. Much want.
The Z32 guys managed to put this red trio together, and it stopped everyone in their tracks.
But the most eye-catching line-up of Nissans – or should I say Princes – parked together for a short time at the very top of the PA. It’s not common to see this S54 generation of the Skyline, so it was a surprising sight.
Among the larger group was this DR30 RS Turbo and a PGC10 GT-R.
You might remember this Sierra from last year Daikoku New Year coverage.
And yes, more Deltas, too.
I have a feature on this NSX dropping soon, so make sure you look out for that. I’m so glad to see its owner got it fixed, and it’s now looking even better than it originally was when I first shot it years back.
By 9:30am, Daikoku was jam-packed to the point that the police were forced to start moving on cars parked in the spaces reserved for trucks.
Then this showed up. A black Testarossa, completely stock and sporting a deep red interior.
It vanished as fast as it appeared, which was too bad as I’d have loved to take a closer look.
Don’t worry F40, you’re still the only one for me.
By this point Daikoku really had it all, from the Technical Shop Happy and Lotus crew…
To 911s of all vintages …
To the most iconic wedges of all time.
I parked myself at the entrance and just let Daikoku do its thing. The drive in was at crawling pace.
This is when things got really impressive, starting with a ’63 Porsche 356.
And followed by a pair of RUF-re-engineered 911s.
Then a guy rocked up in a Chevy V8-powered Manta Montage race car. Just because.
More kyusha awesomeness quickly followed, led by this stunning S30.
Following closely behind was this GX71 Cresta built by the guys at Gold Rush Customs. It’s a stunning creation from one of the best shops out there specializing in these wonderful, angular Toyotas from the early ’80s.
And yes, that’s an E60 AMG, the ultra-rare and partially-Porsche-built monster sedan from the early ’90s with a massive 6.0L V8 under its hood.
Possibly even rarer was this VBC110 Skyline wagon.
I cannot recall seeing one on the street before, so this was a cool spot.
And then the revving V12s arrived, with an Aventador SVJ leading the pack. It was at this point that the young vloggers on hand started losing it, which was my cue to change location.
I returned back to Project Drop Top Reloaded (more on this soon), and decided to swap lenses to see Daikoku PA from a more wider perspective.
Cossie Escort and Hako’ Skyline, a pretty interesting combo if I do say so myself.
Have you ever wondered why the Celica GT4 is not as popular as an Evo or WRX of the same vintage? At some point, this black example will be making its way to the US with its returning owner.
Fat R33 pairing.
How about this for something rare – an S12 Silvia 240RS, looking like it’s ready to attack the 1000 Lakes Rally.
The dekotora we saw earlier was joined by a few keitora, adding further balance into the JDM-ness of it all.
And if you thought a dose of kawaii was missing, this kei van had it covered.
I’d like to say a big thank you to all the Q45s of the world that donated their large diameter throttle bodies to RB26 users around the world. After all this time, it’s still such a dope-looking car.
Later on in the morning, the Anija team members started rolling in.
Driving with your door up in the air is a must if you are the proud owner of a Lamborghini.
The pink 360 we see every year has much kawaii going on too.
I’m not too sure what this 512 was all about, though.
Koenig or replica? Whatever it is, it’s an interesting looking interpretation of a classic.
Mr. Pagani would be happy to see how the 25th Anniversary version he designed during his time at St. Agata is such a coveted car in Japan.
No, it’s not the real thing, but there is an interesting story behind this 190E, and one I hope to uncover for you soon. It involves one of the biggest car collections in Japan.
Remember this old Star Road S30 demo car from a few years ago?
It’s been sold and now regularly makes it to meets like this one.
The spot of the day was this Mitsubishi GTO, a car you just don’t see in Japan anymore. I wonder where they all disappeared off to?
I hope you enjoyed this extended look at the Daikoku New Year meeting, which was a great way for me to kick off 2020. January always means Japan overload here at Speedhunters, and we’re now just days away from a whole lot of Tokyo Auto Salon content, so brace yourselves.
Dino Dalle Carbonare